New Degree Program Provides More Science Opportunities

Oklahoma Baptist University now offers more degree options for students interested in studying science with the new bachelor of science degree in natural science.

The new degree is an addition to the bachelor of science degrees already offered in biology, chemistry, physics and science education.

This spring, two students will be the first to graduate with the natural science degrees.

"The greatest benefit of the natural science degree is that it gives students interested in science a place to start," explained Dr. Mark Hemric, assistant professor of chemistry.

"It guides students through a variety of coursework, giving them the chance to sample a wide variety of scientific subjects to determine what career or major they want to pursue," he said.

The degree is designed to emphasize breadth of coverage across the major science disciplines, such as biology and chemistry, while also giving students greater latitude for elective courses and areas of emphasis, even in non-scientific subjects.

OBU's science faculty developed the program in response to the students interested in developing a new area of study.

"I had an advisee come to me during her freshman year and say that she wanted to major in natural science but we had no current degree plan," said Hemric.

He has been developing the new natural science degree over the last five years in response to the advisee's request.

"This degree plan meets the needs of students desiring specialized training at the graduate level, but it is also possible to gain employment upon completion of the degree without further graduate study," said Dr. Michael Keas, assistant professor of natural science.

Ben Randell, a Dale native, graduated from OBU in 1998 with the equivalent of the natural science degree before the degree was approved. He now holds the position of apprentice program coordinator at the Omniplex in Oklahoma City.

The curriculum for the degree includes courses in planetarium operations, history and philosophy of science, cosmology and culture and earth science courses.

Keas will co-advise students majoring in natural science with a professor from the field that the student is emphasizing, such as psychology or history.

"This degree offers broader exposure to science than any existing degree," he said. "We expect that many students who start of as generalist students in natural science will later switch to one of the discipline-specific science programs and this will increase the number of OBU science graduates."